Posts Tagged ‘air rifle’

The Labradar Doppler Radar Chronograph - A Vital Tool For The Serious Airgunner

Labradar is a system that measures the velocity of multiple projectiles, including airgun pellets as well as bullets fired from firearms. It measures pellet velocities to an accuracy of 0.1% and offers some interesting benefits for airgunners!

Most serious air rifle shooters are familiar with the benefits of a chronograph – being able to measure the velocity of a fired pellet. Labradar takes this one stage further. It uses a different technology to chronographs and offers the potential benefit of being able to monitor the pellet’s velocity at more than one point during its flight.

Traditional chronographs measure a pellet’s speed using photo electric sensors. Labradar does it using a Doppler radar system.

This means Labrador is the ideal tool to determine those Ballistic Coefficient values for your specific airgun, pellet and location. It can also aid the hunter by indicating exactly how much kinetic energy is available at specific distances downrange.

The Labradar Doppler Radar Chronograph - A Vital Tool For The Serious Airgunner

Labradar is supplied securely packaged in a nicely-printed box. The unit itself looks something like a digital theodolite. It’s designed to be used on a photographic tripod.

Alternatively, it can be attached to a Bench Mount, which is sold as a separate item. The Labradar unit screws into the 1/4-inch x 20 thread on top of the ball mount.

In order to be used with an airgun, there’s an accessory microphone kit that amplifies the sound. This is particularly necessary with silenced air rifles and allows the unit to sense the shot being fired. The Airgun Trigger Adapter clips to the side of the main unit in use.

For power, Labradar requires 6 x AA batteries. Alternatively it can be powered by a portable cellphone battery pack.

Labradar provides a readout of velocity on the built-in LCD screen. But the power of the system is really utilized to the full if it’s connected to a computer. In that way, a large amount of data can be downloaded into a spreadsheet for subsequent analysis and manipulation.

If you plan to use the computer download capability, you’ll also need to add additional memory. This takes the form of a SDHC card. This is the type of card that’s used to record photographs in digital cameras. Only a small capacity card is required for Labradar.

We found it possible to use an old, redundant, SDHC card from a disused digital camera. You may find the same. Just plug the card into the port in Labradar. After use, remove the card and insert it into a computer. (You may need an additional adapter to do this).

For airgun use, set your Labradar and Airgun Trigger Adapter microphone kit to one side of the muzzle. This records the Muzzle Velocity, as indicated by the instructions.

Because Labradar uses reflected radar waves from the pellet to determine its velocity, it can also be troubled by reflections from the walls and ceiling of a room. So this is a system best suited for outdoor use.

The Labradar Doppler Radar Chronograph - A Vital Tool For The Serious Airgunner

Our testing was undertaken in the open and also on an outdoor 55-yard rifle range. Like most rifle ranges, this one had a system of overhead baffles downrange to prevent wayward shooting. These baffles are supported by posts.

We tested Labradar in a lane next to the post supports. The system worked perfectly and was not disturbed by the baffles or posts, as we had suspected it might be. Our concern was that the radar waves would be reflected back from the baffles and posts, giving false readings. This did not happen!

Another concern we had for Labradar to record airgun pellet velocities was that it would not be able to detect the noise of a silenced air rifle. For this test, we used a Benjamin Marauder in .177 caliber – our “gold standard” for low noise levels. Again, no problem!

Even without being set to its most sensitive setting, we were able to get Labradar to record airgun pellet velocities from the Marauder without any issues.

The manufacturer’s specifications for Labradar to record airgun pellet velocities say that the maximum range is 30 yards. This is due to the small size of the pellet, not being able to reflect back enough of the radar waves at longer distances.

However, we had no problems with Labradar to record airgun pellet velocities at ranges out to 55 Yards. That’s nearly twice the manufacturer’s claims. Maybe it could even have functioned at even greater distances, but this was the length of the range at which we were shooting the test.

Labradar recorded the distance to the target on the 55 Yard range as being exactly 55.0 Yards. We double-checked this by using a digital rangefinder. This confirmed the range as being 55.0 Yards.

Incidentally, the system needs to be preset to record certain maximum and minimum velocities. There’s no specific “airgun” setting for muzzle velocities in Labradar, but the “Handgun” setting is ideal for our purposes covered the range from 246 FPS to 1,722 FPS.

The system’s display screen will show the Muzzle Velocity, plus pellet velocities at the other distances you have preset.

The built-in menu system works well. For example, you can preset distances to be 10, 20, 50, 40 50 Yards.

If you want to use Labradar to record airgun pellet velocities at almost foot-by-foot distances downrange, it can do that too. Labradar has the capability to record the data for each shot on the SDHC storage card. Using the SD card, the data for hundreds – or even thousands – of shots can be recorded and stored.

Again, we found that the SD card functionality worked well. We were able to take the Labradar data and download it into a PC. It then opened-up easily in the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program, allowing for easy analysis and charting of the data, if required.

Not being PC users, we also tried to download the SD card data onto one of our Mac computers. This was less successful. Although the Mac could see the SD card, we were not able to download the data into the Apple Numbers spreadsheet program.

However, we did find a simple workaround. We copied the Excel file from the PC, loaded it into the Mac and were able to use the data in Apple Numbers by that route.

Really the only downsides to Labradar are the fact that it cannot be used in most indoor situations and that we found it will not detect .177 caliber alloy pellets. Why? Don’t ask us, it just doesn’t…

But neither of these downsides will be real limitations for most users. This is a great product!

The LCS SK-19 is a revolutionary PCP air rifle that will soon be available at Airguns of Arizona. It is a selective fire model which offers full auto and semi-automatic operation!

Coming Soon At AoA! The LCS SK-19 Full Auto Air Rifle

There’s a built-in 19-shot rotary magazine and Lothar Walther barrel with a choice of .22 and .25 calibers. The SK-19 is regulated, of course, giving a claimed 110 shots per fill in .22 cal and 90 in .25 caliber.

Coming Soon At AoA! The LCS SK-19 Full Auto Air Rifle

I have shot a SK-19. This gun certainly works! I found that brief dabs on the trigger gave accurate 3-5 shot bursts that were very controllable on the full auto setting.

Of course, the standout feature of this hammerless semi-auto and full auto air rifle is the high rate of fire! LCS Air Arms says that this air rifle can empty the 19-shot magazine in under 3 seconds. That’s a fire rate of around 6 shots per second in full auto mode.

The LCS SK-19 is claimed by the manufacturer to chamber the longest pellets and slugs in both .22 and .25 calibers without problems.

The barrels are supplied by Lothar Walther. They are covered with a carbon fiber style shroud and silencer for low muzzle report.

The regulator is adjustable using a small knob. This is located just above the rear of the 480cc carbon fiber HPA tank. Filling is by an industry-standard 1/8 Inch NPT quick disconnect.

There are two pressure gauges. One indicates the main tank pressure. The other shows the pressure of the regulated air.

Coming Soon At AoA! The LCS SK-19 Full Auto Air Rifle

In addition to adjusting the regulator, the power level can be altered using the wheel on the underside at the rear of the action.

As the LCS SK-19 utilizes a fixed magazine, safe gun handling is a priority! Of course – as with any gun – the emphasis must be on the shooter to be safe.

However, the manufacturer has provided this full auto air rifle with no less than two safeties. One doubles as the fire selector control, to switch between full auto and semi-auto mode.

Additionally, the design gives considerable access to the fixed magazine. After shooting, this mag can be rotated manually to check that it is completely empty and confirm clear.

The LCS Air Arms SK-19 full auto air rifle is being sold by Airguns of Arizona. They report that Muzzle Energy is up to 60 Ft/Lbs in .25 caliber. So this is also a powerful airgun.

In common with the tactical design of the gun, there are two Picatinny rails. The top one is for scope mounting, the lower for adding a bipod to the SK-19.

The bullpup design means that the SK-19 is fairly compact and not too heavy. Overall length is 35 Inches and weight 7.75 Lbs.

Finally, many potential customers will be pleased to hear that the SK-19 is assembled in the USA.

Currently, Airguns of Arizona is taking deposits for customer orders from the first delivery. I hear they’re going fast!

The Diana Outlaw Is A Great Value Air Rifle!

Yes, the Diana Outlaw PCP air rifle is good! I found it very easy and comfortable to shoot. 

At a Street Price of $499.99, the Outlaw is priced between the rash of $300 PCPs and the more traditional $1,000-ish starting point for the premium brands.

Probably the Benjamin Marauder is the gun to beat at the price. Compared to the Outlaw, the Marauder has a better trigger, is quieter and can’t be blank-fired with a magazine in place. But the Diana has a far more consistent regulated shot count, side lever action and more sophisticated looks.

In itself, this comparison to the Marauder means that the Diana Outlaw offers very good value for money. That’s always been the Marauder’s strong suit and the Outlaw clearly trades punches with the long-established champion in performance, value and quality.

The Diana Outlaw Is A Great Value Air Rifle!

The stock design worked well for me, even though there is no adjustable buttpad or cheekpiece, as is now becoming common in similarly-priced PCP air rifles.

The Outlaw has a two-stage trigger. Sear release is predictable and the overall effect quite pleasant. Pull weight averaged a comfortable 1 Lb 11 Oz on test.

The cocking lever works well and easily. Again, it’s less slick than that of more expensive PCPs, but it’s definitely better than any bolt action I can think of. 

The Diana Outlaw Is A Great Value Air Rifle!

There was a definite roughness in chambering some pellets, primarily the alloys, FTTs and Baracudas. However, that clearly made no difference to accuracy so far as the heavier H&N pellets were concerned. Heavy, 21.14 Grain H&N Baracuda Match pellets turned-in the best accuracy of any I shot!

At 25 Yards, the 10-shot test group was very respectable at about 0.3-Inches center-to-center using a scope at 9X magnification.

The Diana Outlaw Is A Great Value Air Rifle!

Muzzle Energy also peaked at 31.11 Ft/Lbs with Baracudas. However, it’s likely that many owners of the Diana Outlaw will choose to shoot mid-weight lead pellets in the 14 – 15 Grain range, they will see a Muzzle Energy of around 28 – 29 Ft/Lbs. That’s fine for much airgun hunting.

Accuracy was very good or better with 14.3 Grain and heavier pellets. As is frequently the case with quality PCP air rifles, the lighter pellets did not perform so well.

The Diana Outlaw has a regulated action. I tested this using JSB-manufactured Daystate Rangemaster, 15.9 Grain pellets. The result was a good, consistent Muzzle Velocity for 49 shots. 

From shot 50, pressure had fallen sufficiently that the regulator was no longer activated. The FPS then dropped steadily from shot-to-shot, as is expected and you can see in the graph below.

The Diana Outlaw Is A Great Value Air Rifle!

The top of the breech is grooved with standard airgun dovetails. As there’s minimal recoil when firing, a Weaver/Picatinny mount is not required.

The magazine does protrude above the top of the breech. However, there’s still sufficient clearance for the scope above the clip, even when using medium height rings.

One issue is that the magazine is loaded from the left side of the gun. This may cause issues with large diameter scope sidewheels, so the new owner should check this aspect before selecting a scope.

Weight of the Outlaw I tested was 6 Lbs 10 Oz without scope. This compares to the 7 Lbs 5 Oz of a synthetic Marauder. 

The Diana Outlaw Is A Great Value Air Rifle!

This relatively light weight and svelte size of the Outlaw means that a mid-size scope – like an Aztec Emerald – is ideal. Bigger, heavier scopes run the risk of making the rig top heavy. 

The Outlaw’s magazine is an interesting, quite complex design. It has an 11-shot capacity in .22 caliber, one more than many competitive products. It feels robust and substantial in construction. 

It’s also easy to load without the need to hold back a sprung cover plate, as is often the case with other rotary magazines, due to an internal ratcheting system.

However, it does not block the action when all pellets are used and there’s no pellet counter. This means that it’s necessary to keep count of the shots fired to avoid a blank discharge.

The Diana Outlaw Is A Great Value Air Rifle!

The magazine worked well in testing. It slides easily and slickly into the breech, being retained in place by a magnet. Capacity is 13 pellets in .177 cal, 11 in .22 and 9 pellets in .25 caliber.

The Outlaw is an attractive air rifle with an elegant look. Machining finish is very good, with most metal parts having a uniform, black matt  finish.

The stock has a simple design with no unnecessary curves or shaping. Wood finish is generally good and smooth, with areas of  machine-made “checkering” on the forend and pistol grip to aid a good grip. 

The expected rubber buttpad seemed well-shaped and comfortable against the shoulder.

The Diana Outlaw Is A Great Value Air Rifle!

The Diana Outlaw uses a probe filling system to charge it with High Pressure Air. Personally, I’m not a fan of fill probes due to the lack of standardisation and potential opportunity for dirt to enter the gun through an open probe port. 

However, the Outlaw’s probe-filling system is by far the best I have yet seen!

Firstly, the probe itself has a standard “Foster” quick disconnect on the other end. This enables it to be connected directly to the standard female quick disconnect fitting found on HPA tanks and pumps without the usual, annoying need for an additional adapter. 

This makes it quick and easy to use, particularly for owners with other PCPs having a standard male fill nipple.

Secondly, the cover for the fill port is spring-loaded. It’s pulled forward to insert the fill probe, then released back after filling. This is a far better solution – in my opinion – than the more common separate screw-thread or push-in cover for the fill port.

The Diana Outlaw Is A Great Value Air Rifle!

Now there’s no chance of losing or dropping the cover and the fill port itself is automatically protected from the possible ingress of dirt! This is a first-rate feature that we have not seen on other PCP air rifles.

Overall, the Diana Outlaw may be the best $500 PCP air rifle in the market today. Airguns of Arizona has them in stock, so you can get yours today 🙂

Does The FPS For Gas Ram Air Rifles Change With Temperature?

For some years after their introduction, many manufacturers promoted gas ram air rifles as being unaffected by changes in temperature. The FPS would be pretty-well the same at any temperature, they said.

Is that true? Well, on the basis of some testing I’ve undertaken, the answer is definitely “no”. At least in the cold weather we have here in up-state New York.

I’ve found that here is definitely a change in FPS for gas ram air rifles at different temperatures. And it’s more than you may have thought!

To find out what the change in FPS can be with gas ram air rifles shooting at different temperatures, we used a new .177 caliber SIG ASP20.

Does The FPS For Gas Ram Air Rifles Change With Temperature?

We shot the ASP20 at a temperatures of both 20 degrees F and at 63 degrees F. In each case, the gun was allowed to “season” at the ambient temperature for several hours before shooting. This meant that gun and ambient temperature were definitely at the same.

Also, we shot the gun slowly – about every 30 seconds – for each test. This was to avoid any effects from the ASP20 heating-up as it was fired. We took 10 shots at both temperatures for each of the six types of pellets. Total 120 shots.

So what did we find?

The answer that – taking the SIG ASP20 as a representative of gas ram air rifles – the gun shot faster, on average, by 1.28 FPS per degree F at the higher temperature.

Does The FPS For Gas Ram Air Rifles Change With Temperature?

On average, that means approximately 55 FPS difference when the gun was shot at 20 degrees F and 63 degrees F. That is very definitely enough to make the point of impact on the target very different at most ranges.

So if you’re shooting gas ram air rifles, either on the range or hunting, make sure that your gun is sighted-in at approximately the same temperature as for that critical shot. If not, you could miss the target just due to the change in temperature!

Here’s a chart showing how the Muzzle Velocities changed with temperature for different .177 caliber pellets:

Does The FPS For Gas Ram Air Rifles Change With Temperature?

And here’s the average…

Does The FPS For Gas Ram Air Rifles Change With Temperature?

So if you’re shooting gas ram air rifles, either on the range or hunting, make sure that your airgun is sighted-in at approximately the same temperature as for that critical shot.

If not, you could miss the target just due to the change in temperature!

The 2019 SHOT Show will be with us very soon now. So, before it happens, I’ll take a risk and make some predictions for what I think we may see there…

THE FUTURE FOR PCP AIR RIFLES.

At the 2017 SHOT Show, everyone was talking about the Umarex Gauntlet, a revolutionary $300, magazine-fed, regulated PCP air rifle with a great shot count. The announcement of this gun created a huge buzz among airgunners and airgun companies across the US and beyond.

An Airgun Industry Crystal Ball

What the Umarex Gauntlet established was the $300 price floor for a “good enough” quality, regulated PCP air rifle. During 2017, we saw Gamo, Benjamin and others reducing the prices of their PCPs to get close to that magic $300 number. And at the 2018 SHOT Show, there were more $300 magazine-fed PCPs launched – the Benjamin Fortitude and Hatsan Flash among them. I expect to see more this year.

Furthermore, just about every new $300+ PCP launched since the Gauntlet has been regulated.

Currently, these guns have bolt actions. But semi-autos will become more common in future, I believe. In a few years time, the typical $300 regulated, magazine-fed PCP air rifle will also be semi-automatic. Will that start to happen at the 2019 SHOT Show? We’ll see…

WHAT ABOUT BREAK BARRELS?

As HPA compressors become smaller, lighter and cheaper, the barriers to PCP ownership will clearly be reduced. In fact, I believe that they will cause the traditional, single shot break barrel air rifle – to become an endangered species.

Now I do not think that break barrel, single shot springers (or gas rams) will ever disappear. But I do predict that there will be fewer of them sold in future. Mostly, they will retreat slowly back down to the lowest reaches of the US airgun market at prices of $150 or less. Even there, they will be challenged by multi-shot CO2-powered guns.

I also predict that a few, specialist, break barrel (or underlever) single shot springers will survive at the top end of the market, say $500 and above. But these will be the choice of real enthusiasts and a few diehard traditionalists, those “real men” who want to experience “airguns as they used to be”. Think Weihrauch and SIG SAUER ASP20 (below).

An Airgun Industry Crystal Ball

So I predict the current huge range of springers in the $150 – $300 range will fade away and die out over the next few years. They will be steadily squeezed out by increasingly easy-to-use (and cheap) rapid-firing PCP and CO2 guns.

CO2 STRIKES BACK.

CO2-powered airguns are making a big comeback! Many, many airgunners are falling for the charms of rapid-firing firearms replica airguns. Yes, many of these are BB guns and most of them are pistols.

CO2-powered airguns offer “realism” and they offer rapid fire capability. The SIG SAUER MPX and MCX models are a prime example of this trend. They’re hugely successful because they really look the part, fire semi-auto and do not require expensive HPA charging kit. That’s the MPX below.

An Airgun Industry Crystal Ball

This interest in CO2 power is driven, I believe, by a new type of airgunner. They don’t want single shot, hard-recoiling, hard-cocking, Zillion FPS, tough-to-shoot break barrel springers. They want a different type of shooting experience that’s closer to that of firearms (or airsoft, for that matter), but at a lower cost, with shorter range potential and less noise.

I expect to see more CO2-powered firearms replica airguns appear in 2019.

BIG BORE. BIG OPPORTUNITY?

My real question is: “How big is that big bore airgun market”?

Big bore airguns – .30 caliber and above – have been big news in the past few years.

Of course, big bore air rifles use air at a huge rate. This means that you’ll certainly need your own HPA compressor and a very large intermediate tank. In money terms, a big bore requires a $800+ tank and $1,000+ home compressor. Oh, and add-in a $400+ scope. That total rapidly climbs North of $4,000 for a functioning big bore hunting air rifle.

Walking around the SHOT Show, it’s very clear that $4,000 will buy any one of a large number of superb firearm hunting rifles. They’re more powerful, less complicated and require just a box of cartridges to shoot.

So, my prediction is that very high power – say over 200 Ft/Lbs Muzzle Energy – big bore air rifles will remain a niche market.

I believe the cost/complexity/performance envelope of big bore airguns will remain a rarified “enthusiast only” world with a very limited number of users. Unless you already have a tank and compressor for your smallbore PCPs.

Such very high power big bore airguns will continue to attract attention. But the economics probably favor smaller, specialist manufacturers than the biggest players. Look no further than the Western Big Bore Bushbuck, for example.

An Airgun Industry Crystal Ball

So, there’s my predictions for the future of the airgun market…

Overall I believe that, in the next few years, more people will make more shots, firing faster with airguns. Single-shot airguns will become either very cheap, a specialist’s choice or history. Large volume airgun sales in the future belong to magazine-fed, HPA and CO2 airguns with calibers of about .30 and below. Especially those which look like military firearms.

But there again, I could be wrong. According to my wife, I usually am! What do you think?

The SIG ASP20 - A Great New Breakbarrel Air Rifle

The SIG ASP20 was one of the most-anticipated air rifles to be introduced in 2018.

I first shot it at the 2018 SHOT Show in January, then again at the formal SIG Press Launch in July 2018. Now the ASP20 is shipping in both .177 and .22 calibers and you can buy yours from Airguns of Arizona, of course!

So, what’s been happening since the July Press Launch?

Well, SIG has been making a few small tweaks and final testing to ensure that their first in-house developed airgun performs as well as the legions of SIG SAUER firearms owners would expect. SIG Air’s Development Manager Ed Schultz confirmed to me that the company has made over 200,000 shots through multiple ASP20 test guns prior to production commencing.

Yes, over two hundred thousand!

Some individual guns have exceeded 10,000 shots each, he said. And all of this durability testing has been done by hand – no testing machines. Wow! It’s a good job that the cocking effort of the ASP20 is lighter than that of most break barrel air rifles at this power level!

The SIG ASP20 - A Great New Breakbarrel Air Rifle

SIG is currently shipping the wood stock ASP20. Synthetic stock guns will follow, as will scope bundles with the SIG Whiskey3 ASP 4-12 x44 AO scope.

The gun I’ve been shooting is .177 caliber with wood stock and Whiskey3 scope. SIG mounted and sighted-in the Whiskey3 scope before shipment, so it was ready to shoot, straight out of the box.

Immediately you shoulder the ASP20, it’s clear that this is a nicely-balanced air rifle. The center of gravity lies exactly where your forward hand naturally rests to support the stock. The forend is not too wide, just comfortable, too.

The test gun weighed-in at 9 Lbs 10 Oz, including the mounted scope. I’d rate that as pleasantly substantial but not too heavy.

The SIG ASP20 - A Great New Breakbarrel Air Rifle

The wrist of the stock is nicely-dimensioned. It allowed my trigger finger to engage the blade naturally, with no strain.

Although there’s no adjustable comb to the stock, nor an adjustable buttpad, the cheek weld was immediately pleasant for me. This means that the ASP20 is a new addition to that select group of air rifles – like the Weihrauch HW100 – that feel “just right” as they come from the factory, with no need for the stock adjustments they don’t have.

However, SIG expects to have an adjustable cheekpiece available with the ASP20 synthetic stock model in the forseeable future. Just in case…

Easy, foolproof, trigger adjustment was a design goal for the ASP20. Unusually, the trigger pull weight is adjusted from the rear of the compression tube, using a click-adjustable system. You push in then rotate clockwise to increase the trigger pull weight. Anti-clockwise reduces it.

This adjustment can be made using a Phillips head screwdriver. However, if a scope is mounted, you’ll need to use the special adjustment tool provided by SIG with the gun, as the scope blocks screwdriver access.

As received from the factory, the test gun had a trigger pull weight of 2.5 Lbs. So the trigger is light. It’s also very pleasant to pull. However, there’s not that “glass break” sensation as the sear releases, it’s a softer, slightly more gentle feeling – at least as received from the factory.

SIG gives you some control over the trigger release characteristics, too. Turning the small Allen key supplied with the gun in the setscrew located behind the trigger, allows single stage operation, two stage, or somewhere in between.

The SIG ASP20 - A Great New Breakbarrel Air Rifle

Another key focus for the SIG design team was easy cocking. The test ASP20 has a cocking effort of right around 32 Lbs – that’s the SIG Glidelite cocking mechanism at work. This is definitely low for a break barrel gun of this power level.

Cocking action is smooth and even. There’s no feeling of jerkiness and no grinding or grating of the lever against the stock in operation. Again. it’s good.

Lockup is very positive and this reassuring solidity is a testament to SIG’s Keystone breech design and the match-drilling of the pivot pin holes.

H&N Field Target Trophy pellets showed-up well for accuracy. A consistent 1035 FPS – plus or minus – showed on the Chrony for these pellets at 63 degrees F. That’s 20.59 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy, slightly exceeding SIG’s claim.

Our test gun also shot well with Baracuda Match and Field Target Trophy Green pellets. As SIG is an OEM customer for H&N pellets, it’s not surprising that these pellets work well in the ASP20.

It’s clear that the SIG Air ASP20 is a capable, powerful and accurate new air rifle!

With the SIG name on it, the ASP20 appeals not only to airgunners, but also firearms shooters. That’s a HUGE potential market and SIG Air is well-placed to benefit from their growing interest in non powder-burning pellet launchers!

The SIG ASP20 - A Great New Breakbarrel Air Rifle

POSTSCRIPT
Serial numbers for the SIG ASP20 all begin with the initials JDH. This unusual prefix is a memorial to Justin Daniel Heckert, one of the gun’s key design engineers. Sadly, Justin died unexpectedly before the ASP20 entered production. Serial number one of the SIG Air ASP20 was presented to Justin’s family as a mark of respect by the company.

Don’t Let This Happen To You!

It’s PCP airgun corrosion – this is what moisture does to your air rifle…

It’s widely known – or at least fairly widely – that PCP airgun corrosion is caused by moisture in the air that’s used to fill an air rifle. But what does this PCP airgun corrosion look like and how bad really is the damage?

These photographs show how bad the corrosion actually can be. Look and be warned!

Don’t Let This Happen To You!

Above. There’s plenty of corrosion on this Marauder fill adapter. You can also see oxidization build-up on the sintered filter.

Note that our photographs happen to show corrosion in Benjamin and Crosman airguns. That’s because these are examples seen at a Crosman Repair Center. But every PCP airgun – not just Crosman/Benjamin models – suffers from this problem.

You can find PCP airgun corrosion in any make of airgun!

Every time you fill your PCP airgun without a dessicant system of some sort, you are causing this problem. You’re actually pumping water vapor – moisture – into the gun every time you fill it with High Pressure Air.

The result is long-term damage to your gun and an expensive repair bill just waiting for you in the future!

Don’t Let This Happen To You!

Above. Here’s corrosion on a Discovery gauge port. It’s even inside the gauge adapter (arrow)…

Over the long-term – say 3 years or more – PCP airgun corrosion will be the number one cause of failure for PCP air rifles.

First, you find that your favorite PCP is starting to loose pressure between uses. Then the pressure loss becomes more rapid. Then, finally, the gun will no longer hold pressure.

If you have been filling with “wet” air – that is air that has not been passed through some sort of moisture-removal system – it’s guaranteed that this problem will be caused by PCP airgun corrosion.

Over the course of time, that water vapor inside your air rifle will cause corrosion.

The problem will be worse if you live in a naturally-humid area. It will be worse still if you live by the ocean – think salt water corrosion now. So if you live in – say – Florida and you’re filling your PCP with a hand pump and no dessicant system, your PCP air rifle WILL suffer from this PCP airgun corrosion!

There’s some evidence that PCPs with higher fill pressures – say 3,000 PSI and above – tend to suffer from this PCP airgun corrosion more than those with lower pressures – say 2,000 PSI. That makes sense, as the onset and progress of PCP airgun corrosion will most likely be worse the higher the pressure.

But what actually happens?

Yes, rusting of the HPA pressure tube is one obvious result. If a pressure tube shows any signs of internal rusting, it should be replaced immediately!

Below we have a view looking down a Marauder pressure tube.

Don’t Let This Happen To You!

You see, the O rings inside the gun seem to attract moisture like a magnet. The result is that rust occurs between the O ring and steel tube – usually in a circular pattern, exactly matching the location of the O ring.

I may be a coward, but the prospect of holding a rusty steel tube containing 3,000 PSI of air right next to my face every time I shoot doesn’t sound too clever. DON’T DO IT!

More surprisingly, perhaps, the majority of PCP airgun corrosion happens on Aluminum parts inside the gun, rather than the steel tube itself.

The high pressure moisture-bearing air causes the Aluminum to oxidize into a white substance. This white oxide then builds-up underneath the O ring seals inside the gun. But it doesn’t build up evenly!

Don’t Let This Happen To You!

Because the Aluminum oxide builds-up in peaks and troughs, eventually the rubber O rings inside the gun can no longer fill the gaps and leaking starts. It’s downhill all the way from there…

Prevention is better than cure.

The way to prevent – or at least massively reduce – PCP airgun corrosion is to ALWAYS fill your gun with “dry air”.

If you use a hand pump, make sure it is filled with a dessicant system such as this Hill pump has.

Don’t Let This Happen To You!

Alternatively, if you fill HPA tanks from a compressor, use a dessicant system – such as this Omega inline filter – between the compressor and the tank.

Don’t Let This Happen To You!

Or if you have your air tanks filled by a paintball store or dive shop, make absolutely sure that they are giving you dry air.

PCP airgun corrosion WILL happen to your air rifle unless you always fill it with dry air. Make sure that you only use dry air in your PCP.

Don’t let this happen to you!

Upgrading the Diana Outlaw PCP Air Rifle

At the time of writing, there is a variety of upgrade possibilities available for the Diana Outlaw air rifle or soon will be…

Diana has taken a very enthusiast-friendly approach to their new regulated PCP air rifle. And you can benefit from it to make your Outlaw really your own. Some of these accessories are not available yet. However, check with AoA to find out the latest information on availability.

 

One. A Complete Manual For The Diana Outlaw.

Hard Air Magazine has produced a complete manual for the Outlaw that contains just about everything you want to know about your new air rifle. It’s available from Airguns of Arizona!

Upgrading the Diana Outlaw PCP Air Rifle

“Choosing and Shooting the Diana Outlaw” is a 94-page book full of useful information. It includes tips on filling, scope mounting and choosing pellets. In addition, the book covers maintenance and re-building details.

Now you will know what to do with all those tools and O rings that were included with your Outlaw!

 

Two. The Outlaw Enthusiast’s Kit

Precision Airgun Distribution – the US distributor of the Outlaw – has also developed an interesting upgrade kit for this air rifle.

The Diana Outlaw Enthusiast’s Kit comprises no less than 32 upgraded parts and tools. It allows the enthusiastic Outlaw owner to make a number of improvements to his/her gun. And all the information you need to use it are included in the “Choosing and Shooting the Diana Outlaw” book.

Upgrading the Diana Outlaw PCP Air Rifle

All parts are higher quality replacements for those shipped on the gun. The screws and pins are all stainless steel and the O rings, US-made of VITON material. All parts are matched to original Diana Part Numbers for easy identification.

Using this kit you can…

– Upgrade the trigger and cocking lever pins. These precision-ground, oversize pins replace the factory parts and are much less likely to fall out by accident. The trigger pins also provide more consistent operation.

– Upgrade the stock bolt and other assembly screws throughout the gun with high quality stainless steel replacements for a more pleasing, professional appearance.

– Install a non-rotating cocking handle upgrade. Simply cut the rubber tube to length. This reduces double-loading problems caused by fingers slipping off of the cocking lever.

– Replace the barrel seal – two sets for each caliber are included. In addition, superior pointed, barrel adapter setscrews are provides, together with replacement barrel adapter O rings.

 

Three. Upgrade The Buttstock.

Diana plans to offer an alternative buttstock for the Outlaw. This stock is manufactured in Italy by Minelli and offers a more sophisticated design than the standard factory part. It will also be completely interchangeable, with no modifications required to fit it to the Outlaw’s action.

Diana’s replacement buttstock has a more rounded, flowing design. It’s stylish and offers possibilities for a more comfortable and consistent hold for the shooter.

Upgrading the Diana Outlaw PCP Air Rifle

The rake of the stock’s wrist gives improved positioning the the trigger hand. The swelled, checkered forend will be easier and more comfortable to grasp, while the higher comb will give a better and more consistent cheek weld.

These are important benefits!

Anything that gives you a more comfortable shooting experience leads to greater consistency of positioning yourself against the gun every time you take a shot. And greater shot-to-shot consistency on your part increases the practical accuracy of your shooting. This can make a stock upgrade an important benefit for many shooters.

 

Four. Check Out The Trigger.

Many owners will be happy with the feel and operation of their Outlaw’s trigger.

However, a trigger upgrade is being developed by Diana and this will be regarded as a welcome improvement for owners using their gun for Field Target and other competitive shooting.

However Diana has designed a Match Trigger for the Outlaw. Again, this is a direct, drop-in replacement for the trigger that shipped with your Outlaw. It’s a significant difference!

Diana’s Match Trigger includes setscrew adjustments for both first and second stages of the trigger travel. These are the tiny setscrews visible just ahead of the trigger blade.

Upgrading the Diana Outlaw PCP Air Rifle

Another adjustment possible with the Match Trigger is that it’s possible to move the trigger blade itself forwards or backwards. This provides flexibility for you to select the most comfortable and convenient trigger position. After all, we don’t all have fingers of the same length!

Adjusting the trigger blade position is a simple affair. Just use a thin-bladed standard screwdriver to slightly loosen the trigger blade. Adjust the position to your liking and re-tighten.

In testing, I found the Match Trigger to be a valuable improvement to the Diana Outlaw. The greater number of adjustments helped me tune trigger release exactly to my liking. It also provided a lower and more consistent pull weight.

 

Five. Add A Huma Regulator.

Understanding the Outlaw’s popularity, the Dutch regulator specialist company Huma has introduced an upgrade for the Outlaw’s regulator.

The Huma regulator is a high-precision assembly, made largely of stainless steel and brass. It provides you with the ability to adjust the regulator pressure of your Outlaw to match the requirements of you, or your favorite pellets, or both.

The factory regulator is pre-set at a pressure of between 130 and 150 Bar (1,880 to 2,170 PSI).

The Huma regulator upgrade comes pre-set at a pressure setting of 135 Bar (1,958 PSI). However, this setting can be changed easily and – unlike the factory part – the Huma regulator gives you a scale showing the different output pressures. Rotating a setscrew allows you to set a specific regulator output pressure.

Setting a higher regulator pressure will give you higher FPS and less consistent shots per fill. Within reason, of course.

Upgrading the Diana Outlaw PCP Air Rifle

To install this forthcoming Huma regulator, you’ll find full details in the “Choosing and Using The Diana Outlaw” book, of course!

 

As you can see, there’s lots of ways you can have fun upgrading your Diana Outlaw air rifle. Have fun!

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

I first saw this interesting new air rifle at the annual IWA exhibition in Nuremberg, Germany, in 2017. Then it was called the Nova Vista HP-M1000. It impressed me as one of the two most innovative airguns introduced at that show. The other was the FX Crown!

Below, that’s Mr Zhu, the designer of the Nova Freedom, showing me “his baby” at that show.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

Now this multi-pump PCP air rifle is available in the USA. It’s being imported by the distributor American Tactical and you can buy it from Airguns of Arizona. Its name is the Nova Freedom.

Firstly An Overview.

Of course, the idea of a PCP air rifle with a built-in hand pump is not new. Other air rifles have been produced in the past with a similar basic benefit – not needing to carry a separate tank or pump with you to refill your PCP air rifle in the field. The FX Independence springs to mind, of course.

However, the American Tactical Nova Freedom is a new model with some distinctly different engineering and it’s selling for just $379.95. Both .22 cal and .177 caliber models are available.

Below a Leapers Bugbuster scope is a good match for the Nova Freedom.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

The manufacturer is claiming some pretty impressive specifications for this air rifle. Apart from the built-in handpump, the American Tactical Nova Freedom can be filled from a HPA tank. Maximum fill pressure is 3,600 PSI.

There’s an adjustable, two-stage trigger and two power levels settable by a rotating knob.

Pellet feed is via a Marauder-style 10-shot magazine or single shot tray with side lever cocking. And yes, the 10-shot magazine is very similar to that found on the Benjamin Marauder and Umarex Gauntlet. In fact, they’re interchangeable.

Muzzle velocity for the .22 cal version is given as 900 fps or 700 fps – depending on power adjuster setting. In .177 cal, the claim is 1,000 fps or 800 fps.

 

Before Going Any Further…

Yes, the Nova Vista is inexpensive.

Yes, it’s rather “blocky-looking”.

Yes, it’s not designed or manufactured in Europe.

But don’t knock this one until you have tried it!

It is in fact a very capable all-round air rifle that – I believe – will surprise you with its capabilities.

Real World Shooting.

As supplied, the Nova Freedom is hard-hitting and accurate with mid-weight and above lead pellets.

If you’re hunting, set the gun to High Power and be prepared to pump every 5 or 6 shots. We found it produced 29.7 Ft/Lbs in .22 caliber with JSB Jumbo Exact pellets. That’s 965 FPS, higher than the manufacturer’s claims and very decent power!

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

Before shooting it, I expected the Nova Freedom to be rather “clunky” and unsatisfactory to shoot – entirely because of the built-in pump. But that’s actually not the case.

In fact, I found it comfortable and very stable to shoot offhand by holding on to the pump handle and bracing my upper arm against my chest, as shown in the photographs. The pump handle can be locked closed to avoid inadvertent operation in this kind of of use.

For target shooting or plinking, Low Power still gives plenty of FPS and a remarkable 20 good shots between pumping.

 

Pump And Trigger.

The built-in hand pump definitely works!

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

This means that owners of the American Tactical Nova Freedom can do without the cost and inconvenience of a separate HPA hand pump. In addition, it can be filled from an external tank or HPA hand pump if required, however, if you prefer.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

It also means that the user is able to re-fill the Nova Freedom while in the field. This overcomes the inevitable air anxiety (“Do I have enough air?”) that every PCP owner has experienced at one time or another.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom we tested had a trigger pull averaging 2 Lbs 10 Oz.

This trigger is a two-stage design, but the first stage was almost undetectable, feeling more like a little slack on a single-stage trigger. However, the trigger release was quite predictable and consistent. And it can be adjusted…

Adjustments for sear engagement, pull weight and pull length are all accessed from outside the gun using an Allen wrench. The instruction manual supplied with the Nova Freedom gives clear instructions for making trigger adjustments.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

 

I’m Convinced!

If you like this concept, there’s nothing else to touch the Nova Vista in the market at anywhere near the price. The only downside is a slight increase in bulk and weight compared to a conventional PCP.

Try it. I think you’ll be impressed too!

Stephen Archer is the Publisher of Hard Air Magazine.

First Of All, Someone Threw Down A Gauntlet…

Around a year ago, the Umarex Gauntlet started shipping. That was a big deal because – for the first time – a regulated, magazine-fed, shrouded PCP air rifle was available at the ground-breaking price of $300. Well, actually $299.99.

Cue for some rapid developments in the low-price PCP airgun world!

Now we see one of the first responses to the Gauntlet thrown down by Umarex. It’s the Benjamin Fortitude air rifle.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

As with the Gauntlet, we have a $300, regulated PCP which delivers 60+ shots per fill, uses a 10-shot magazine feed and offers backyard friendly sound levels. Both have similar muzzle velocity capabilities and reassuring multi-year warranties.

So which should you choose? That’s a great question!

Let’s Look At The Fortitude In More Detail…

The Fortitude looks something like a cross between a Benjamin Maximus and a Marauder air pistol, with a regulator built-in. You can see how it compares to the Maximus in the photograph below. (Both air rifles are the same length, perspective makes that look less obvious).

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

The breech looks very similar to that of the Marauder air pistol. However, there’s clearly some differences as the Fortitude uses the 10-shot Marauder rifle magazine, rather than the 8-shot mag from the Marauder pistol.

Crosman has always had a core competency in re-using existing parts to build new products. Why design something new when there’s a perfectly satisfactory part already in existence? That’s very sensible engineering, so it would be no surprise to find that the new Fortitude uses many parts that have been proven in previous models. Doing so reduces development time and risk, while keeping costs down.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

Compared to the familiar Marauder air rifle, the Benjamin Fortitude is a much lighter, less bulky air rifle. It weighs about 2 Lbs less than the Marauder rifle and just 5 Ozs more than the single-shot, unregulated Maximus. This means that it feels light and handy to shoot.

As with all other Crosman and Benjamin PCPs, the Benjamin Fortitude is manufactured in the USA at the Velocity Outdoor headquarters in Bloomfield, New York.

Velocity Outdoor? That’s the new name for the company formerly known as Crosman Corporation. Don’t worry about it, the Crosman and Benjamin airguns you know and love are still the same…

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

The Benjamin Fortitude we tested shot at around 750 FPS with 14.35 Grain JSB Jumbo Exact 14.35 Grain pellets – in .22 caliber, of course. That’s just under 18 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy. The gauntlet we tested gave 805 FPS, 20.75 Ft/Lbs with the same pellets.

These JSB pellets also gave the best accuracy of any we tried. Few will find that a surprising result!

And the Benjamin Fortitude was impressively consistent. In fact it gave the lowest average Standard Deviation FPS of any air rifle we’ve ever tested. At any price!

So does that make it better than the Gauntlet? Well, that depends…

First The Fortitude.

The Fortitude is a much smaller, lighter air rifle than the Gauntlet. It has much better natural pointing capability and is a breeze to carry on a hunt.

The Fortitude is manufactured in the USA. The Gauntlet is built in China. For some that will be a big deal, for others not so much.

The Benjamin also has a 5-year warranty, compared to the 3-year coverage of the Gauntlet.

The Gauntlet Strikes Back.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

Unfortunately the Fortitude needs a stock with an adjustable cheek piece. I got a chin weld, not a cheek weld when shooting it! The Gauntlet has an adjustable comb to the stock which is much better.

And the Gauntlet’s trigger is also superior. True, it needs some adjustment but this is easily done with setscrew adjustment of pull weight, sear engagement and overtravel all available once you pop off the stock.

The Fortitude’s trigger is non-adjustable and the sample I tested had an average pull weight of five and a half Pounds. Ouch! Yes, there are some fixes for this to be found online, but it’s starting waaaay behind the Gauntlet.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

And then – although both have heavy bolt actions – the Gauntlet’s is much easier to operate. The bolt handle is longer and larger, there’s more space to avoid skinning your knuckles on the scope and the pull effort is less.

The Gauntlet is slightly more powerful also.

So Where Does This Leave Us?

For $300, both the Fortitude and the Gauntlet are great choices. It’s almost too close to call. Your decision will depend on which features are most important to you.

It’s great to have choices!

 

Stephen Archer is the publisher of Hard Air Magazine.